Sheptock, Rudy

Pastor Rudy Sheptock.

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In 1964, the British invasion was sweeping America's music world.

The Beatles began to own the Billboard charts. John Lennon and Paul McCartney were songwriting gold.

Bobby Rydell, Philadelphia's golden boy, needed a hit song. He was promised a tune Lennon and McCartney wrote but chose not to record it. It was a surefire hit and a golden ticket for Rydell to get back on the charts.

Something happened along the way that wrecked Bobby's comeback. Peter Asher was beginning to record with Gordon Waller. Asher’s sister, Jane, also began dating Paul McCartney, so guess who got the upper hand with the same record?

What became a huge hit for Peter and Gordon became a complete miss for Bobby Rydell. The lyrics went something like, “Please lock me away, and don't allow the day; here inside, where I hide with my loneliness. I don't care what they say, I won't stay in a world without love.”

Have you ever wondered what life without love would be like? Are you curious as to what the world would be like without the power of love?

The apostle, John, the son of Zebedee, was divinely inspired when he wrote, “God is love” (1 John 4:8). He and his brother, James, were nicknamed the Sons of Thunder by Jesus. Apparently, the Lord saw their inner rage and appropriately called them out.

John was originally known for raising hell, but a relationship with Jesus changed that. This Son of Thunder became the disciple of love. How could such a transformation take place for John? It is only because John refused to live in a world without love.

He opened his heart and had a personal relationship with God’s only begotten son, Jesus Christ, who became his first love, and that love began to permeate his whole life. Whoever is your first love will become the one who has the strongest hold upon your heart.

Knowing God's love must go beyond just an intellectual pursuit. If it is not experienced fully within the human heart, then it will not be understood.

Too many church-going people keep God solely as a subject in their textbook when He longs to be the engine of their soul. Let me illustrate it by giving you the scientific definition of a kiss.

Technically, it is the anatomical juxtaposition of two orbicularis oris muscles in a state of contraction. Who wants to smooch after reading that? However, when you plant one smack dab upon the lips of someone who raises your blood pressure, you feel what a firework senses when it’s bomb bursts in mid-air.

People can talk all day about the Bible's truth, but it won’t mean anything without personally plugging it into what you claim to believe. Will we Christians venture beyond what we can comprehend in our minds and fully enter into the fullness of a relationship with our God? My granddaughter constantly sings a song from the Frozen 2 soundtrack that cries, “Into the Unknown.”

A man bought a large fish tank and installed a piece of glass in the middle, dividing one side from the other. He placed a group of fish on one side of the glass but no fish on the other side.

At first, the fish kept bumping into the glass because they didn’t see it or expect a barrier there. After a few painful days of head butting, and a lot of fish headaches, the fish became conditioned to stop swimming near the invisible barrier. Then the owner removed the glass divider, but no fish swam past the middle of the tank.

When you’ve been swimming into glass your whole life, and all your friends and family tell you about the glass they’ve hit their heads on, you’ll probably give up trying to swim past it. Similarly, when a church has been nothing more than another place where you live with constant reminders that you aren’t enough for God’s power to work wonderfully through you, we willingly settle to stay on the safe side and don’t try to enter into God’s abundantly more experience.

To know Jesus is to love Him, and to love Him is to be like Him, and to be like Him is to love others. It is time to stop behaving like we are loveless and start believing that Jesus opens adventures and opportunities in life beyond our vision.

It is time to stop underestimating the transforming power of Jesus' love. It’s easy for Christians to forget how massively loved we are with such a wide and accepting, long and lasting, high and exalting, deep and sacrificial love.

God’s love extends super-abundantly in every direction, like an infinite universe whose end can never be reached. God’s love is wide enough to accept whosoever will may come. His love is long enough to last into eternity. His love is high enough to prove that there is something called purity and authenticity.

His love is deep enough to show the heart and soul of what sacrificial effort will do for the person who matters. Have you stopped to realize and count the cost of how far God has gone in making His affections known to His creation?

Not only should we never buy into the lie that we are not loved by Heaven, but we should also never think that we have God's love figured out.

Let’s say I challenged you today to visit the beach and fill a jar with ocean water. Your jar would be filled to the brim with the Atlantic Ocean, but not all of the Atlantic Ocean could fit within the confines of a simple jar.  In the same way, God longs to fill the jars of human hearts with His love and power and presence.

Everyone can be filled with all of God and still have more about Him unknown. There is so much of God’s love to know and experience and share, and even then, we are still only scratching the surface.

Fall on your knees, and be willing to swim into the deep end of His grace and mercy. Apart from Jesus, we can’t do anything, but with Him, there is no stopping the flow of how far God will go to prove that He has not abandoned this crazy world.

If God hasn’t given up on us, why would we ever choose to give up on Him?

ED. NOTE: The author is the senior pastor of The Lighthouse Church, 1248 Route 9 South, Court House.